The two officials accused in connection with a secret employee bonus scheme in a city agency pleaded not guilty yesterday. One was expected to be bailed out of jail shortly, and both received much lower bail amounts than state prosecutors had sought for one of them.

Carolyn Y. Smith and Dante Dayacap, who both held top positions at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

“Everything he did was on the up-and-up. He complied with all the rules and regulations,” Dayacap’s lawyer said. “He’s been called an embezzler, a thief and it’s really wearing on him.”

Even in Fifth Grade, Critical Thinking Rules

The story of the “Rainbow Fish” is charming on the surface: a fish makes friends by giving away its scales. But what lies beneath? Immorality, says a San Diego fifth grader: gifts don’t actually create friendships.

This is an example of critical thinking, not always the most prized trait in schools, let alone many other places. But San Diego schools are pushing for deeper thinking and analysis. We visit two very different local schools to see how this mission is playing out.

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From La Mesa, Suicide Kits by Mail

A 91-year-old La Mesa woman is selling suicide kits through the mail, the Daily Beast reports. The kit is “a simple contraption designed for a single purpose: people kill themselves with it by encasing their head in a bag of helium, which is lethal in pure form.”

They’re hot sellers, apparently. “I’m too busy to cash the bloody checks,” the woman says. “I haven’t made a deposit in three months.” Legislators in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, are trying to ban the sale of the kits.

Legislators Turn Down Pension Punishment Bill

A state Senate committee said no-go to a bill that would kill pensions for city and state officials accused of misusing taxpayer money, the LAT reports. One concern was that the families of the officials would be hurt. Elected officials and judges, however, are still out of luck if they screw up big time: as before, they can lose their pensions, families be damned.

Locally, there’s been chatter recently about how city employees can keep their pensions even if they’re convicted of crimes. Then again, they did earn them, regardless of what they’re alleged to have done.

Checking Out a Library Usage Claim

San Diego Fact Check finds that a councilman’s claim that library usage is up is mostly true. It’s gone down a bit recently, possibly because hours shrunk in 2009.

Boom Goes the Bridgepoint

Bridgepoint, the controversial for-profit higher education company based here, has something to boast about: its first quarter earnings grew 81 percent, far surpassing the expectations of analysts. Another tidbit about Bridgepoint: newly released campaign finance reports show that it gave $16,000 to a GOP-supported proposed ballot measure that would give most new city workers 401(k)s instead of pensions.

County Supervisor Cleared in Donation Flap

County Supervisor Bill Horn is off the hook: state investigators have cleared him of wrongdoing in the case of a young man who denied to CityBeat that he gave a donation to the North County politician even though it was listed in campaign forms. It seemed odd that the then-USC student, a pro-gay marriage activist, would give $500 to the very conservative Horn, although his mother did so, “as did her employer, Bruce Tabb, a developer with several projects before the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.”

Investigators say the man confirmed that he did make the donation.

SEALed with a Non-Miss

Check out Slate’s photo gallery of pictures of Navy SEALs, whom are trained in Coronado. One shot Osama bin Laden the other day. notes just how hard their training is: “After six months … candidates need to be able to swim 1000 meters in 20 minutes, do at least 70 pushups in two minutes and run four miles in under 31 minutes wearing long pants.” The estimated salary for experienced SEALs is about $54,000, says, although they may be eligible for several kinds of extra pay that could boost their income into six figures.

Also, the New York Times looks at the role of an unnamed dog in the bin Laden mission. About 600 dogs are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan (one canine received a posthumous Silver Star from the Navy), and some trained to work with Navy SEALs, who bought four camera-equipped waterproof vests for dogs. No, they’re not so the pooches can take pictures: they allow the SEALs see what the dogs see during missions.

By the way, a former Navy dog handler who lived in San Diego became a high-profile activist supporting gays in the military.

Do You Take This Convention Center…

The royal wedding, football draft, convention center and hotel taxes all make appearances in the latest edition of VOSD Radio.

The ‘San Diego Omelette’ from Hell

I was at a diner in Manhattan last week and noticed a bit of home on the menu: the “San Diego Omelette.” The first few ingredients sounded fine: ham, peppers, onion. And then I saw two words that should never go together: “American cheese.”

I’ll pause while you recoil in horror.

Processed cheese!? Ridiculous! (I know this is so because I’ve gained special Foodie Superpowers from our stories about a local Top Chef, a chocolatier to remember and the local queen of sandwich lore.)

If you’ve got a better recipe for a San Diego Omelette, email it to me. (Maybe it has one egg instead of three due to budget cuts?) I’ll gather the best suggestions and send them to the Big Apple restaurant. San Diego’s culinary reputation, if it has one, hangs in the balance!

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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